“Spiritual Warfare in Ministry”

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 By Rick Warren

If you were to come to my office, you’d find five full-length filing cabinets, lined up one after another. Each of them is full of files: Bible studies, ideas, sermons, messages, research, and such. One of the most important files I have is a yellow one labeled, “Warnings – Lessons to be Learned.” The file is full of fallen Christian leaders. Some of them I knew personally; some of them I didn’t know. But I review the file at the end of every year, just to warn myself.

We are in a spiritual battle. That’s why that kind of stuff happens. If you don’t take the Christian life seriously, if you don’t take ministry seriously, the Devil’s going to. You may not mean business, but he does. The most often used analogy for Christians in the Bible is of soldiers. The words that are often used to describe the Christian life are war terms – fight, conquer, strive, battle, overcome, victory. We are living in enemy territory when we live in the world. Scripture makes it very clear.

If you are in ministry, you are going to face opposition from the Devil. If you get up in the morning and you don’t face the Devil head on, right at the start of the day, it means you’re going in the same direction. He is opposed to everything you stand for. He hates anybody who’s sold out to Jesus Christ. He will do anything he can to defeat you.

Question: So how do we fight this spiritual battle? Here are six essential steps.

  1. Acknowledge the adversary. Realize Satan is real. Peter tells us, “Be alert, and be on watch. Your enemy the Devil roams around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Be firm in your faith and resist him because you know that your fellow believers in all the world are going through the same kind of suffering.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Whenever you’re being spiritually attacked, just remember: Welcome to the club. It’s proof that you’re a believer. It’s proof that you’re making an impact. The more of an impact you’re making, the more the Devil is going to fight you. You never outgrow it. It just gets more intense.

  1. Accept Jesus’ authority. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19) The Bible says if you are a believer, you are given the authority of Christ in spiritual warfare. You have the right to fight back. You have the right to bind and to loose.
  2. I put on the armor. The famous passage on armor is Ephesians 6:11-17: “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the Devil’s schemes. Have the belt of truth buckled around your waste and the breastplate of righteousness and have your feet fitted with the Gospel of peace. Take up the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.” You’ll notice six pieces of armor in the passage.
  • Truth
  • Righteousness
  • Gospel of peace
  • Faith
  • Salvation
  • The Word of God

Every piece of this armor is mental preparation for battle. That’s what the armor is all about. You need to put on truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God mentally before you do ministry – whether you’re preaching, leading a Bible study, leading worship, or counseling a grieving member of your community. Why? You expect that you are going to be attacked, so you need your armor on first.

  1. Aim the artillery. Spiritual warfare takes place primarily in our thought life. When somebody is opposing you in your ministry, they’re not the real problem. The problem is the thoughts the Devil’s giving them to oppose you. The problem is not that person. The problem is what they’re acting on. You always act on what you think. They’re getting thoughts from the wrong source. There are only two sources for thoughts. When we get thoughts from God, we call it inspiration. When we get thoughts from the Devil, we call it temptation.

We have four weapons in these battles against evil thoughts.

  1. The Truth. The truth, God’s Word, is our sword. It cuts through all the mustard. It gets right to the point. When you are in a conflict, the question you want to ask yourself is this: What does God say about this?
  2. Humility. The more you humble yourself before God, the more power you will have in your life (James 4: 6-7). That’s just the way it works. As we minister to others, we need to continually acknowledge God’s hand in what we are doing. He’s the one who empowers our ministry. We’re simply his vessel. In humility, we find real and lasting power in ministry.
  3. Faith. Without even talking to you in detail, I can tell you exactly what God is doing in your ministry. He’s doing what you expect him to do. Faith is a powerful, powerful tool. (1 John 5:4)  I don’t know why, but when I preach and I expect people to respond, they do.
  4. Praise. Revelation 12:11-12 says, “They overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony. Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who inhabit them.” How did they overcome the Devil? By the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony. They were praising God. The Bible says when people praise God, “[he] inhabits the praises of his people.” 5. Call on the Holy Spirit. You need to say, “God, fill me with your Spirit as I’m about to do this.” Whether you’re preparing a message, preaching, counseling someone, training your leaders – whatever you’re doing – ask God to fill you with his Spirit.
  5. Avoid all distractions. If you’re going to be effective in ministry – in battle – you’ve got to focus yourself. You know what’s important in life. There are so many things that want a piece of your time. The good can be the enemy of the best.
  1. Avoid all distractions. If you’re going to be effective in ministry – in battle – you’ve got to focus yourself. You know what’s important in life. There are so many things that want a piece of your time. The good can be the enemy of the best.

I have one person to please and only one – the Lord Jesus Christ. And if I’m pleasing him, that’s what is going to count at the end of my life. Avoid the distractions. If you get distracted, the enemy is going to catch up with you.

 

 

 

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